Elitist/Ableist Thinking

It really bugs me that people think that those of us who struggle to find work in a terrible economy are lazy or simply taking advantage of the system. 

Both my sister and I have benefited from EI and its social assistance over the years. It’s a very necessary program considering the economy these days. Even the Welfare program is beneficial to those without options and in terrible situations. I’ve heard stories of single women who were left to raise children and a not a penny to their name. Without these social supports, our society would be in serious trouble.

So, when I hear elitist friends say they don’t agree with living off of the hard work of others, it really irks me. At some point even the elitist may need that support. What goes around comes around. We never know what lies around the corner for us. Life is funny that way.

The same goes for the ableist mentality. This is not often thought about. People who are fully physically and cognitively able don’t think twice about their attitude toward those of us who may have challenges – be it chronic fatigue or cognitive delay or physical inabilities. It’s so easy to assume that we are lazy (which is so far from the truth). And if you don’t agree, come live a day in our shoes and see how exhausting simple daily living activities can be. Add to that the emotional stress of relationships with people who don’t “get it”, and a society whose ignorance permeates the very air we breathe…the struggle is real. If you thought tension in the air feels thick, you should experience the feeling of ignorance (and arrogance) thrust upon you. It leaves me speechless – believe it or not (?).

Why don’t you get a job and stop living off the system? You look fine. What’s wrong with you? 

First of all, appearances mean nothing. Mental health challenges are one of the most common issues in society right now. These challenges leave a person immobilized and unable to focus or think. Even on medications, our bodies are exhausted from fighting ourselves. Secondly, jobs (especially in London, On) do not grow on trees. Many decent paying positions require very specific education and training. Without the money and cognitive ability and energy to pursue such training, a person is sunk. 

So what’s left then? Where does that leave us? Minimum wage jobs do not pay the bills. Sadly, since moving back from Calgary almost 10yrs ago, I have had only one job with full time hours and decent pay. It lasted a little over a year and was an abusive situation. I was forced to quit as the owners were tired of working with my exceptionality. 

So, here I am, having been forced to start my own business just so that I had a job, and specifically one without a boss breathing down my back with unrealistic expectations. But the work of running ones own business is not exactly ideal for someone with brain injury. The payment per hour barely covers travel expenses and time spent “working”, never mind administration. I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

But of course, I look fine. So what’s my problem? Just find another job, right? Lots of people work multiple jobs to pay the bills. Go ahead and judge me and tell me again that I’m not worth the money I charge for the service I provide. And by all means, let me know again that you don’t appreciate having to pay for someone else’s life (which is not mine, just for the record).

Lately, I just can’t stand people. ?

Emotional Girl

Another country song that depicts my life…imagine! This is one my dad has so lovingly associated with my personality. And all we can do is smile…because it’s so true. 🙂

As I alluded in one of my recent posts, one of my “blessings” in life has been my increasingly emotional nature and heightened sense of awareness or empathy. I have always been a sensitive person, but it seems that since my injury and over the years I have become even more so. This doesn’t just mean that I cry at the drop of a hat – which I DO, but that’s not all. It means I have a heightened appreciation for life, a deeper sense of gratitude, a more passionate sense of justice on behalf of others, and unfortunately a more defensive sense of responsibility for my own emotions.

I have learned to own my emotions, acknowledge their reality, but not give them the power to run my life. Of course, they motivate my actions quite often, but through some cognitive behavioural techniques I try hard to live beyond and despite them. And you can bet no one will dictate how I “should” feel in any given situation without my adamant response.

So today I am feeling particularly emotional. Why? Probably because of my monthly hormonal changes, because of stresses at work, and because my best friend’s mom just passed away. Crazy how all of these details collide to promote a seemingly unmanageable moment or series of them. So instead of letting the emotion immobilize me, I cry, I write, I pray…and I clean myself up, get some fresh air, drink a cool glass of water, and focus my energies on this present moment. Controlled breathing makes a world of difference in calming a rapidly beating heart, the tight anxious feeling in my chest, and the sore muscles in my neck.

I am preparing to take on my day, and this is the routine I face. Add to that the planning and preparation of my meals, what I will wear, and any errands on my way to work, and my mind is already tired before I even leave the house! But all that matters is this moment. I’m going to finish my second cup of coffee for the day and then I’ll deal with the next moment.

This is how an emotional and anxious person makes it through the day…all the while smiling to make sure the positive energy is the more prevalent influence. 🙂

…this is my life…